Overworked & Underpaid

Overworked & Underpaid
As nurses, we all know the tremendous amount of work that it takes to care for patients in today’s complex health care system. We also know that our job is often thankless! The toll that nursing takes on our minds, bodies and spirits is significant and we are frequently overworked and underpaid...

In 2004, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that the average full-time RN worked between 5-11 hours of overtime per week. So, in addition to the back breaking work performed by nurses, many of us are working for hours on end with little staffing.

To add to our suffering, according to January 2009 statistics, the average RN in the US , with 1-4 years of nursing experience, earns less than $50,000 per year. While the average LPN with 1-4 year of experience earns less than $35,000 per year. These salaries hardly reflect the contributions and sacrifices that nurses make every day.

Despite these disturbing statistics, day in and day out, we continue to serve and protect our patients and their families, as well as the profession of nursing. But, how do we begin to find refuge from the med carts and call lights? How do we serve ourselves while serving others at the same time? And, how do we relieve ourselves of the stress that is sometimes insurmountable?

The answers are just as overwhelming as the questions! However, you can start by learning the signs of burnout and by incorporating techniques to help you slow down and de-stress.

Signs of Burnout…

Appetite changes
Unexplained aches & pains
Overwhelming stress

Techniques to help you slow down and relax…

Delegate some of your work and/or home responsibilities to others.
Take a deep breath in and blow it out, while relaxing your entire body every hour.
Have a Licensed Massage Therapist perform 15 min chair messages on your floor/unit.
Play soft music at work to relax yourself and patients.
Perform basic yoga exercises every day.
Hire a housekeeper once a month to help with your chores at home.
Go for a brief walk at lunchtime.
Learn basic meditation techniques to perform at work.
Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings; just remember patient confidentiality.
Hang out with friends and family regularly.

If all else fails, consider changing your specialty area or even possibly your career. Perhaps, a change is in order and your subconscious self is sending you a message!


Payscale. (2009). Salary Survey Report for Job: Licensed Practical Nurse.

Payscale. (2009). Salary Survey Report for Job: Registered Nurse.

US Department of Health & Human Services. (2004). The Registered Nurse Population: Findings from the 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. Health Resources & Service Administration.

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Content copyright © 2023 by Bethany Derricott, BSN, RN. All rights reserved.
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